I went out with a guy in college, named Dean*, who carried a picture in his wallet of his dad. It wasn’t a recent picture. It had been taken back when his father was about Dean’s age–maybe 19 or 20 years old.

Dean was always pulling the picture out to show friends. He would hold his ID beside the picture of his dad, and then get a big smile on his face as friends commented on the remarkable resemblance between the two.

I always thought this was a little odd, until I learned about Dean’s mom. She had been habitually unfaithful to her marriage, and though Dean’s father wondered if the children she bore were really his, he never had the heart to pursue the truth.

But with Dean, the truth was obvious. It was confirmed by his features and hair color and stature. There was absolutely no doubt that Dean was his father’s son. And the father’s joy in this was channeled also to the heart of his son. Dean delighted in showing the world that he belonged to his dad.

Dean helps me, even years later, to consider whether my heart resembles my heavenly Father’s. Am I earmarked with the unique blend of kindness, humility, and justice that unmistakably identifies me as God’s child? Does my resemblance bring him joy? Each of God’s legitimate children have cause to hold up a picture of our father, and then smile as others comment on the remarkable way that we resemble him.

*not his real name

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